Remarks in Westfield, Massachusetts

September 02, 1902

This is the town with the second oldest normal school in the country, and the president of the alumni association of that school is with me here, my secretary, Mr. Cortelyou. I do not speak of him, of his services and his ability merely because I should speak of them. I should speak of them truthfully, and it would be unpleasant for him to have me use the language practically of flattery which I should have to use.

Now our Republic has as one of its corner-stones the education of the citizen. Education is not all. The educated scamp is a scamp still and all the more dangerous to the community, but, admitting that, it is always true that while education is not all, without it we would not amount to much. We must have a high degree of education in the average citizen or we are not going to be able to solve aright the problems presented to us. It is no small honor, no small distinction for a town to have within its borders the second oldest of the institutions which have accomplished such a marvelous work in giving higher scholastic training to those best fitted to receive it. Our public school system is broad at the base, but goes upward so that those who wish are able to get the highest type of education. Our public school system—it is a mere truism to say it--stands at the foundation of good citizenship—it is one of the component parts. There is no one stone that makes up all the foundation. Education in the schools is one thing, but it is not a substitute for education at home. Let no father and mother lay to their souls the flattering notion that they can shirk their duties, and think that those duties will be performed by the school teacher, no matter how good that teacher is. All of you know an occasional father or mother who does just that thing. We have to have the education; we must have the home bringing up; we must have the trained mind; and then we must have, in addition, training for what is more than mind—training for character.

This is fundamentally what counts in the life of the citizen and the life of the state. To get the best results we must have a high degree of education, but the highest degree of education, if unaccompanied by the development in a man's moral side, which produces character, will avail but little.

Theodore Roosevelt, Remarks in Westfield, Massachusetts Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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